endeavor to persevere
"There are many
things in the
world; among them, the white man's notion that
he is less savage than the other
"I'm an Indian alright but here in The Nations they
tribes. They call us
civilized because we are easy to
sneak up on.
White men have been sneaking up on us for years.
They sneaked up on us and they told us we wouldn't be
They told us we would be
happy in The Nations.
took away our tribal lands and
sent us here.
I had a fine
woman and two sons but they all died on the
Trail of Tears.
I wore a frock coat to Washington before The War.
wore them because we belonged to the five
ourselves up like Abraham Lincoln.
We got to see the secretary of the interior.
He said, "Boy, you
boys sure look civilized."
He congratulated us and he gave us medals for looking so
We told him about
how our tribal lands had been
stolen and how our humans were dying.
When we finished he shook our
hands and said "Endeavor to preserver!!"
They stood us in a line John Jumper, Chili McIntosh, Buffalo Hump, Jim
Buckmark, and me, I am Lone Waite.
The newspapers took
our picture and said, "Indians vow to
endeavor to preserver."
We thought about for a long
time, endeavor to preserver, and when we had
thought about it long enough, we
war on the Union."
Lone Waite, Indian chief - from "The Outlaw Jose Wales"
Seventy-five percent of the
food and fiber grown today was discovered and
cultivated by the native farmers and hunter-gatherers of North, Central and
These indigenous varieties include corn, beans, peanuts,
cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, blueberries, cranberries,
strawberries, squashes, black walnuts, pecans, chocolate, tobacco, rubber,
sunflowers, and medicinal herbs and plants.
Today, every one of these
varieties are threatened by Monsanto, Big Pharma, and industrial agriculture,
among others, who are privatizing and patenting seeds and the gene pool,
eroding biodiversity, degrading the soil and water,
contaminating the food chain, and
destabilizing the climate.
What European colonists mistakenly
described as wilderness was actually a human-created and nurtured landscape,
providing food, medicinal herbs,
bountiful wildlife, healthy, living soil, and clean water.
Americans "managed" the environment "organically," producing and/or maintaining
for themselves and the future generations native animals, birds, fish, berries,
nuts, greens, fruits, bulbs, corn, mushrooms, roots, basketry and cordage
materials, firewood, hunting and building materials, herbal medicines, and
plants for ceremonial use.
Many "wild" or commercial plants or
varieties that exist today are in fact derived from ancient Native American
seed saving and cross-breeding that produced better-tasting, climate adapted,
and nutritional varieties.
The popular belief that pre-Columbian
America was a "pristine wilderness" is false.
This destructive myth is
based upon essentially racist stereotypes that reduce the highly successful
plant and animal husbandry of Native American rural societies to the
instinctual behavior of wildlife or "noble savages."
"The white man ruined this country.
It's turned back to
In the old days there used to be lots more game:
deer, quail, gray squirrels and rabbits."
- Southern Sierra
Miwok elder Jim Rust
There are no "spontaneous Edens" on
The New World Gardens of Eden spread across the Americas
and the Caribbean, mindlessly exploited by the European conquerors, were the
product of the wisdom, hard work, and perseverance of millions of Native
Americans, caring for what they believed was a "sacred Earth" and an
interconnected web of life that included all living things.
similar manner, we must understand today that there will be no spontaneous
organic or green revival, nor magical climate re-stabilization. An
organic and healthy life for the present and future generations will require
the dedicated work and perseverance of millions.
In the near future we
will either stop the deadly assaults on our biodiversity,
our food chain, our health, and our
climate, or else the biological carrying capacity of the Earth will collapse,
along with "modern civilization" as we know it.
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